SPARC Spring Training Empowers Summer Camp Professionals

Posted By: Amy Grier SPARC News,

One of the many valuable benefits of SPARC membership is the annual Spring Training event, hosted by SPARC leaders and designed to prepare auxiliary professionals for the upcoming summer program season. This year’s Spring Training included 92 members, indicating a clear need among summer camp leaders for professional development and auxiliary community support.

SPARC Senior Advisors Bob Rojee and Karen McCann McClelland created Spring training to fill this need. "We were very intentional with the format and flow when we set this up," Bob said. "This is our third season offering this program. We wanted to give our members an effective platform to help them elevate their summer programs, including everything you should know for the summer season."

Seeking to elevate the Spring Training experience this year, Bob and Karen designed three 90-minute sessions, each dedicated to one aspect of preparing for the summer season. The first, Onboarding, covered hiring and training staff and how to structure training and orientation sessions. The second, Content, focused on everything necessary to include in training, such as health and safety, school and camp culture, and guidelines. The final session is Delivery, which explored ways to share materials during summer, including ice breakers, games, and videos.

Whether you're new to camp life or a seasoned vet, SPARC Spring Training is a fun, informative, and energetic way to get the camp season started and so many ideas flowing!  I love seeing the power of camp with SPARC and all it can do for our communities!

– Katie McLean, Associate Coordinator of Auxiliary Programs, St. Mark’s School

Bob and Karen both stressed the number one reason people join SPARC and sign up for Spring Training and similar events—community. “Every one of our colleagues is ramping up for summer right now,” Bob says, “and most of them are doing it alone at their schools.”

Karen agreed. “We’ve created an opportunity as a collaborative to come together and share information. People come to Spring Training and realize, ‘I am not alone.’”

Part of this information sharing is a Google file which all participants contribute to. This ensures that ideas shared in Spring Training are accessible all year, including staff evaluation forms, training outlines, game ideas, and many other valuable tools that enhance the quality of their summer programs.

Bob and Karen's community-focused approach has been so successful that people come back to Spring Training year after year, creating a supportive group of summer camp professionals at all experience levels.

“We had breakout sessions, one for rookies and one for veterans, so we could tailor the training to their experience levels,” Karen said. In fact, all but one of the rookies this year was still in their first six months on the job. Veterans who return share their experience and wisdom with newcomers, but they also return to continue learning and developing their own knowledge and skills.

“Professional development is a process,” Bob added. “People come to SPARC events to gain one or two nuggets of valuable information that will elevate their programs. There’s always more to learn.”

Available to any auxiliary professional--and free for SPARC members--Spring Training is a three-session event covering all things related to summer program staff hiring, onboarding, training, planning and strategizing. Find more information here and mark your calendar for next April's 2025 Spring Training. 

Want to take advantage of free Spring Training and all the many benefits of SPARC membership, including professional development roundtables, webinars, tools, and a wealth of community support on SPARC Connect? Join today to start building your skills and the value you bring to your auxiliary program.